“He’s got a good job!” The greatest pitchman in the history of Twin Cities television, Mel Jass was a pioneer who became one of the region’s best known and best loved personalities. Born in St. Paul, he began his career at a small Montana radio station where he served as manager, program director, and salesman. Within five years, he was announcing for NBC. He served in the US Air Force, then returned to the Twin Cities as a key figure at Twin Cities Television Lab, which opened in 1947 to provide training for the new industry. In 1949 he joined WCCO TV as an announcer and emcee, hosting his Mel Jass Show variety program, Popeye’s Clubhouse, and other programs. He moved to WTCN TV in 1957, and in 1958, Mel’s Matinee Movie began its 21-year run. The movies weren’t always great, but the real attraction was Jass himself. He interviewed guests, told stories about Hollywood, where he had worked for several years, and, of course, did lots of commercials. He called his style “aggressive humility.” His sincerity and ingratiating manner won viewers over while his powerful voice grabbed their attention and urged them to buy. The audience loved him, and his fellow broadcasters admired his generosity and devotion to family as much as his incredible ad-lib skills.
Mel Jass passed away, at the age of 80, on January 20, 1997.
Inducted October 27, 2007